What’s the true test of whether a band is any good or not? How about whether they can rouse a crowd at Leeds festival on the last day, in the afternoon, when almost everyone is nursing a hangover after a week of straight binge drinking and general debauchery, into a violent mosh pit. Because Royal Blood did that. They gave people bass when all they wanted was bacon. And they did it good.
So Royal Blood are great live during a compressed afternoon festival slot (a slot so slim that the duo were even cut short, resulting in frontman Mike Kerr flipping his fingers at the technicians). That debate is settled. But how do they fare on record? There’s a lot of hype following the duo. Can they deliver?
Well, yes, they can. ‘Royal Blood’ is a ruddy-great debut. It’s a first album that is loud, muscular, drips with confidence and is a whole lot of fun. Which is everything any of us could ask from a debut.
Royal Blood are a duo formed in Brighton, consisting of frontman/bassist Mike Kerr and drummer Ben Thatcher. Many of you would have first heard their name when Arctic Monkey’s drummer Matt Helders wore a Royal Blood T-Shirt during the band’s triumphant Glastonbury headline slot last year.
What’s Royal Blood’s USP you say? Well if you don’t know already (it has been talked to death), it’s that Kerr does some sort of technology-wizardry with his bass guitar, apparently it has something to do with the amps or something (Kerr won’t tell anyone his secret) that makes the bass sound like a normal guitar. EXCEPT BIGGER. LIKE IT SOUNDS MASSIVE.
It all opens up with an excellent three song sprint with well known tracks ‘Out Of The Black’, ‘Come On Over’ and my personal favourite, ‘Figure It Out’. It’s songs like these that get hung-over people hurling their bodyweight each other on a Sunday afternoon in Leeds. Apart from ‘Loose Change’ everything you get here is just great Royal Blood (I also particularly liked ‘Ten Tonne Skeleton’, that right there is a cracker). Riff-tastic, gnashing rock music at its purest. Royal Blood are nothing less, or more, than that. Now that could be a criticism as well as praise, but, honestly, you wouldn’t want Royal Blood any other way. People like muscular rock music.
‘Royal Blood’ is album making at its most direct and lean, with ‘Royal Blood’s’ ten tracks clocking in at just over thirty-two and a half minutes. There’s no messing around here, no time wasting, no spare meat. It’s the musical equivalent of sneaking into the vineyard and squeezing as many grapes as you can until the owner spots you…or something…IT’S A LEAN ALBUM.
Grape nonsense aside, ‘Royal Blood’ is a sensational debut. The album just went number one in the UK charts (it was actually the fastest selling Rock-debut in three years), so get yourself ready for the naysayers to creep out of their crevices in hipster-ville and start bashing Royal Blood. But fuck those guys! Royal Blood are excellent. If they don’t headline Reading & Leeds in the next ten years, or at the most fifteen, I’d be surprised. You heard it here first.